Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday pressed the U.S. Secret Service for details regarding its ongoing investigation into the discovery of cocaine at the White House.
The Secret Service confirmed that cocaine was found in the West Wing of the White House on Sunday, believed to have been brought in by someone who works there or had authorization to be there. This development has prompted Republican lawmakers to raise broader questions about security and drug use at the presidential residence.
In a letter to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, Mr. Cotton urged the agency to promptly provide information regarding the specific location within the White House complex where the substance was found.
“The American people deserve to know whether illicit drugs were found in an area where confidential information is exchanged,” wrote Mr. Cotton (pdf).
The letter posed a series of questions to Ms. Cheatle, seeking clarification on the security of the complex and requesting the Secret Service’s plan to address any identified security flaws.
“If the White House complex is not secure, Congress needs to know the details, as well as your plan to correct any security flaws,” wrote Mr. Cotton, who is a member of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism.
He also requested a “complete list” of individuals who can enter the White House without undergoing full security screenings as well as those who are subject to lesser security screening requirements than those entering the West Wing, along with “the reasons such individuals are not subject to complete screening.”
Mr. Cotton also asked for data on the Secret Service’s use of K-9 screenings and information about audits conducted on their security procedures.
The letter additionally inquired about the frequency of encounters with illegal drugs at the White House complex over the past five years. Citing a section of the U.S. Code, Mr. Cotton asked whether the Secret Service would exercise its authority to make warrantless arrests for offenses committed in their presence or for any felony under federal law if the individual responsible for bringing cocaine into the White House is identified.
The Republican senator gave the Secret Service director until 5 p.m. on July 14 to respond. He also requested a briefing on the matter and the provision of classified or law enforcement-sensitive answers to his questions.
White House Tight Lipped
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre avoided providing specifics when asked several times about the location where the cocaine was found and the potential consequences that might emerge from the Secret Service’s investigation.
She informed reporters on Wednesday that the substance was discovered in a “heavily traveled” area of the West Wing, which is routinely accessed by visitors and staff. She expressed confidence in the Secret Service’s investigation but would not be drawn to provide further details, repeatedly saying the probe is “under their purview.”
Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the Secret Service, told The Epoch Times on Wednesday they are going to do their best “to identify who may have brought it in.” He said the illicit substance was found in an area closed to the public but accessible by staff, the media, guests, and others with business in the West Wing during the security screening process.
“There’s a multitude of individuals who come through this area. It’s an open area for individuals who are authorized to be in the West Wing,” Mr. Guglielmi said.
Responding to the news, former President Donald Trump, a candidate for the 2024 presidential election, took to Truth Social to express skepticism.
“Does anybody really believe that the COCAINE found in the West Wing of the White House, very close to the Oval Office, is for the use of anyone other than Hunter and Joe Biden,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday.
Ms. Jean-Pierre noted that the president and his family were at Camp David over the weekend. “They left on Friday and returned just yesterday,” she said at Wednesday’s press briefing.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, another 2024 candidate, expressed disbelief during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio show on Wednesday. Pence said it would be “wall to wall” media coverage if cocaine had been found in the West Wing during the Trump–Pence administration.
“I mean, if the news accounts I read are right, this was in, this was not in the White House complex, right?” Pence said. “This was in the residence itself, if I understand,” he added. “It was in the library in the White House.”
“We ought to know in real-time who brought and left cocaine on a table in the residence in the White House, but I’m not holding my breath,” he added.
The White House was briefly evacuated on Sunday night after the Secret Service found the illicit substance, which at the time it described only as an “unknown item.” The discovery of the mysterious substance in the West Wing prompted the dispatch of a hazmat team as well as the D.C. Fire Department and EMS.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.